Sunday, 29 September 2013

Freedom for All!

Its been a funny old week...I set off being excited by my new found more being tied to the farm waiting for births...I could do what I wanted for the first time in six months. So what do I do?...On Monday I clean and tidy the store room, aka Paul's games room...I rediscover the snooker table under tons of yarn. Tuesday, Robyn and I give all the livery girls a dose of Ovithrive (mineral and selenium drench. I am changing back to Maxigro, as they hate the taste and so do I) and treat them for mites with Deosect. Wednesday, Amanda and I do a load of spit-offs with our girls.

I seem to have forgotten what there is to do off the farm. By Thursday I am feeling glum...and then I realise more waiting for births...nothing to be excited about quite the opposite...I actually like getting up each morning full of expectation of what might be born today.

So what shall I do?...two things. Firstly I check to see if I still have any non-alpaca friends (after being unavailable for half of the year)...thankfully I do and they are willing to drag me away! Secondly, I break my recently made plan to shorten the birthing season...Yes, Explorer has had a few extra dates (including Pepsi who is brown) but today is definitely the last day.

I have just totted up the cria on the farm...forty three...that's forty three to halter train...cor blimey that will keep us busy. At least we will have some large weaning groups which will be good for them.

Paul has been making good progress with his belter of a field shelter. So much so that we decided that it could be put to use. With birthing over, the livery girls have now been moved on to more grass and further away from the house. The livery group are still in isolation so our girls have also been moved. I love moving alpacas around, they are so nosy it is so easy...just open a gate and off they go...

Paul opening the gate to freedom for the livery girls (Sparkle and Edelweiss on the left)

Really? Should we?

Yes go for it girls! (how gorgeous is the little brown Prophecy male on the left? I want him!)

Venous (black cria) makes a dash for the front...

and makes it first...look at all that grass!

Tuesday, 24 September 2013

Bozedown Campari and the Pea Pods

We were up bright and early on Saturday morning, ready for our four hour trip down to Bozedown Alpacas. An exciting day lay ahead, with eighty seven 2012 born females to chose from I wanted a clear head. Well that was the plan...we were to leave at 06.30 hours...we actually left at 10.30 hrs. We found poor La-Di-Da flat out in the paddock at 06.00 hrs. Unable to stand and in severe pain, we gave here Finadyne and Buscopan. Poor little thing was running around in to fences, and throwing herself on the ground. Although Robyn and Craig were kindly looking after the farm, I wanted to make sure she was okay before we left. A very nasty case of colic.

So we arrived at Bozedown later than expected, but with ample time for a good explore. I knew I was going to find it hard to resist such high quality whites, but had in mind finding a fawn for Timbertop CT Goldmine. However, I just couldn't stop looking at a beautiful brown female, and I wasn't in the least disappointed when I got to see her fleece. Bozedown Campari is a daughter of Bozedown Bourbon and has the most delicious buttery soft fleece, which is very uniform in micron. Extremely impressive for her colour. Fleece stats: MD: 17, SD 3.2, CV 19 CF 100%. A very exciting addition to our coloured breeding programme at Beck Brow.

I did put this photo on Facebook and it was noted that Paul looks rather less excited...I looked through the photos...and believe me this is the best!!!

Paul with Bozedown Campari

Whilst we were away, the last birth of the year took place at Beck Brow. Not belonging to us, but a livery female, Razamataz had a lovely Black Sabbath male...yes more boys!

Razamataz with her Black Sabbath male.

So that's it until March when EP Cambridge Courtesse (pregnant to Sanjo Shalimar) is our first due of 2014, closely followed by Cambridge Stargazer (pregnant to EP Cambridge Spartacus)

We have had six Beck Brow Explorer progeny (3 females and 3 males). It is such a joy to see the offspring of our first home bred stud male. Here are the Pea Pods...

Beck Brow Miss Molly (sire Beck Brow Explorer)

Beck Brow Epic (sire Explorer)

Beck Brow Ludo (sitting) and Beck Brow La-Di-Da (both sired by Explorer)

Beck Brow La-Di-Da again (sire Explorer)

Beck Brow Hallelujah (sire Explorer)

Beck Brow First Edition (our star cria of the year and sired by Beck Brow Explorer)

Adelle, an adorable first time mum, who spends all of her time looking for Epic

Beck Brow Cats Pyjamas (sire Waradene St Patrick) 

Paul is struggling to find the time to get on with the belter (across between a barn and a shelter... as identified by Mark). We now have a concrete floor, but no other progress. Luckily the weather is being kind.

Has Paul lost his tools?...progress is slow!

Wednesday, 18 September 2013

An Epic week!

Things are so busy here at the moment that I never get the time to blog...then by the time I do blog... I have forgotten why I was so in no particular order...

On Sunday, as forecast, the weather was dreadful. Rain and gale force winds...not a day for birthing...well so we thought. At 7 pm we were out in the livery paddocks getting a female in for mating...when Paul happened to notice a crowd gathered in our female paddock...he wandered off, then come running back "get the birthing box Adelle has a head presenting"...the rain was coming down in sheets and the wind was so strong the contents of the birthing box took off around the was a bit of a struggle but by 7.30 pm we had a cria on the ground...on its own...Adelle had ran off into the barn out of the rain!

Being a maiden, Adelle didn't quite know what to make of her cria when reunited...we shut them in together overnight and she obviously recognised him as hers...but he wasn't looking to feed and she wasn't encouraging him. Not wanting to take any chances with an evening birth, we bottle fed cow's colostrum. On Monday I left long periods between feeds in the hope that the little fellow would nurse...but no...and when we tried to help, she sat on his head....not looking good. Surely not another bottle feeder for the last born of the year (Foxy Sox last year)...then 12.30 pm yesterday...just as I say to Amanda that I am going to get a bottle...he latches on...yipeeeeeeee

This little man carries some amazing genetics. On his dam's side we have: Cambridge The Chairman, Jolimont Commisario, NWA Ruffo, EP Cambridge Peruvian Caesar and Jolimont Enchantador. Add to these the genetics from his sire Beck Brow Explorer; Cambridge Navigator, EP Cambridge Peruvian Spartacus, and Accoyo Remarque, and he really has an exceptional pedigree. In recognition of all those Ep Cambridge males...we have named him Beck Brow Epic.

Easter-Wood Adelle with Beck Brow Epic

What a wonderful sight (yes, he might need an enema!)

That's it for Beck Brow...13 boys and 9 girls was the final score...better than half time! Beck Brow Explorer has had 3 boys and 3 girls. They are so like him it is comical. They all do the same grumble when you catch them, and are all so laid back like him, and of course they all look like him.

Beck Brow La-Di-Da (sire Explorer)

Vircocha Black Sabbath has also produced cria all with a very similar look...and particularly the head type. Beck Brow Sunday Best is his stand out cria...but we are very pleased with his cria in general

Cambridge Scarborough with Beck Brow Sunday Best

This is another little Black Sabbath cracker...Prima Medici...born here on livery this week

Prima Medici (brown Black Sabbath male) with Prophecy male behind (Indomitable)

Another Black Sabbath brown male cria born two days ago

A Black Sabbath female also born 2 days ago (Prima Venus of the Lakes)

Born today in the livery paddock a brown Prophecy male.

Yes, I have been a busy midwife in the livery paddocks this week. I seem to have been on my knees all week...towelling off cria and spraying umbilical cords...whilst supervising matings (if you don't own alpacas then dont even think about why I am on my knees during the initial stages of mating!). Yesterday we actually had a mating going on at the same time as a female was birthing in the same shelter...Amanda and I just looked at each other and started laughing...what a way to earn a living!

On the same subject...why have 50% of the livery females chosen to come into the brick build shelter to give birth...of their own accord...and in good weather? I feed them in there, could this be the reason? Ours always choose to birth outside. Sonata came in for breakfast yesterday and just birthed in there 30 minutes later! All credit to them, they do just get on with it. No high maintenance females on livery...Beck Brow girls?...ummm!

Beck Brow Crafter (sire Waradene St Patrick).

On Thursday I was apprentice judge at Westmorland Show, under Tim Hey. He was a great tutor for my last halter show apprenticeship. I have the HOE fleece show to go, before my certification exams next month. I am so looking forward to showing our alpacas next year. I seem to have been ring steward or apprentice at every show this year.

I had a good catch up with Debbie from Barnacre Alpacas today. She brought over Sunburst (their Champion grey male) for a date with Zola, who is on livery (remember mad Zola who has now decided to be nice) and Barnacre Sahara for a date with St. Patrick. It took Debbie about three hours to escape, as I showed her all the livery cria as well as our own!

Only one more birth to go now on the livery side...a lovely black female who is pregnant to Black Sabbath. Hopefully, this week, as we have a busy weekend lined up. Big excitement Saturday...we are going to Bozedown Alpacas to chose our Alpaca Classic female...Yes, lot 25 is the pick from all the 2012 born females at Bozedown...87 Huacayas to choose from...I have narrowed it down to seven on paper...but shall be looking at many more to be sure!

Monday, 9 September 2013

Alpaca Classic 2013

 On Friday morning I was up and about at 6 am as usual...and by 6.15 am, I had the feeling that my plans to have a leisurely morning, before heading off to Bozedown Alpacas for the Alpaca Classic...were in serious jeopardy. There in the pouring rain, all on her own, whilst everyone else was tucked up inside, was Metisha. For goodness sake Metisha... it has been sunny for weeks...and I haven't been anywhere for months...why today...and why mess about until 14.00 hours...I should have been on the road by then!

The good news is that we have another Explorer daughter. For some reason, that I have no explanation for, I have decided to call her Miss Molly...which means I can't stop singing "Good golly Miss Molly"...maybe you are too young to remember?

So Kathryn (Nero Black Alpacas) and I left a little later than planned, with me having had 15 minutes to get ready as is the norm, and arrived at the hotel about 21.15 hours. A catch up in the bar with friends, and a glass or two of wine, and it was a relatively early night ready for the weekend ahead (was it early I cant remember?)

And what a great weekend we had. Mary-Jo (Bozedown) and Nick (Alpaca Stud) put on a great event. With their generous hospitality, and fantastic seminars and workshops, I think everyone enjoyed themselves. Of course what is even more impressive is the fact that this is all free...well it would be free...if I could just sit on my hands. I need there a cure for AAA do you think?...Alpaca Auction Addiction...its going to be cited on my divorce papers I feel!

I did try really hard...I resisted to the very last lot...I really hadn't intended to amount of coaxing by the auctioneer was going have me give in...and then it happened...without any encouragement at was just a nod of the head and that was it! Lot 25 to Beck Brow I going to have fun!

I so enjoyed catching up with everyone, you can't beat being surrounded by fellow AAA folk. Kathryn and I managed to talk for 11 hours (the journey there and back) without the slightest pause in conversation. So much so that we couldn't hear the satnav, and a number of roundabouts were navigated round a couple of times before exiting. However, the realisation that we would have to concentrate, if we were to get home at all, eventually was after scratching about in the the bottom of our bags and the ash tray to find the change to pay for the toll charge over the bridge...that we find out that the satnav was trying to interrupt our conversation to tell us to "turn around when possible" we then have to pay to cross the same bridge in the opposite direction...we did get home about 10 pm!

Good golly Miss Molly (yes another Explorer head)

I think someone might be becoming a favourite...La Di Da...she is so tiny!


Foxy Sox always gives me such a welcome home

And lastly Young Punk Percy (owned by Robyn and Craig) who is in need of a napkin!

Young Punk Percy

Sunday, 1 September 2013

The postmortem

On Friday we received the results from the postmortem on poor little Wellies. The interesting thing about the report was more about what they didn't find, than what they did find. So much so that the AHVLA are running further tests at their own expense.

We had assumed that it was an overwhelming sepsis that had been the cause of death, and with the clinical sign of a stiff neck, this was assumed to be meningitis. However, the only bacterium isolated so far has been identified as one not previously associated with clinical disease in alpacas. The only real find at this stage is a dramatically swollen bladder, with clots of blood present in the urethra. What we do not know is if this was a primary or secondary problem. The only abnormality on the blood results was a raised urea at 17.90 (normal range 3.9-10.2). Raised but not at the level you would expect of chronic renal failure (and no rise in creatinine levels which normally go hand in hand in renal failure). Of course urea is produced as a by product in the breakdown of protein, so it may just be a result of not feeding. The next step is microscopic tests on the kidneys to ascertain if there may have been a congenital component. We wait with interest to see if any further light can be shed, but I do feel reassured that we didn't let him down by missing something obvious.

Ladida had her plasma transfusion on Friday. As the vet went to insert the cannula he kept repeating himself..."my god she is tiny"...but she sat on my knee and made no fuss at all...I am truly smitten! She has ears like a spaniel... we have taped them up but she still looks like Droopy. No weight gain nor loss this morning. However, daily weighing has picked up that Ludo was losing slightly every day. Checking on mum Lucie she is rather short of milk, so we have been supplementing him with a bottle (just 200mls x 3 daily) and his weight is on the up.

I can never over emphasise the importance of weighing cria. We weigh daily for the first week and then decide on the frequency of weighing depending on how the cria is doing. Today was a weekly weigh in for the Beck Brow and livery cria. Boxster is the only one of our cria who is way behind on his weight gain (this isn't new he has never gained weight well) but he refuses to be topped up with a bottle. He does try to steal, but is a poor thief and never manages to successful get a drink from anybody but his mum (Bozedown Magic Charm).

I though I would share some photos of some of the livery cria, who are becoming much more friendly. Even the mad black one has calmed down, so much so I feel I can name her...without it been in an ASBO kind of way...yes, Zola lets us weigh her cria. Actually now that I have spent a lot of time trying to understand her, I think she was aggressive when she was frightened. I have gradually gained her trust and today when I was treating her skin she didn't even struggle never mind spit. You get what you give with alpacas...that's just one of the things that makes us adore them!

Look at those eyelashes...Maradadi is such a sweet girl, only three weeks old and full of character

Thanos is a Black Sabbath progeny...and a little stunner...he always looks like he is smiling too.

Indomitable (sire Prophecy)...luckily mum Zola has decided he may be weighed and he is doing well.

How cute is Bonnie Lad?

Only two more Beck Brow birth's to go. Adelle is 383 days gestation today...isn't it mad...we have Ladida born at 310 days gestation and we are still waiting for Adelle...73 days is impossible to plan your calender around alpaca births!